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The Regimental Roll

Background

The Association had in its possession two hand written Regimental Rolls which recorded the enlistment of the members of the 2nd/3rd Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

The original hand written Regimental Roll was in very poor condition, with sections of it either illegible (water damaged or faded with age) or completely missing (insect damage or torn).

A hand written copy of the original Regimental Roll was in much better condition and very legible.

Both Rolls were in alphabetic sequence, with lists of “Attached Personnel”, “Workshops” members and “Signals” members included at the rear of the Rolls.

A comparison of the two Rolls revealed:

  • There were entries on the original that were not transcribed to the copy.
  • There were entries on the copy that are not on the original.
  • A large number of names were included on both the Alphabetic Regimental Rolls and on the lists of Attached Personnel.
  • The information recorded against each member varied considerably

Approach

1. An Excel Spreadsheet was compiled from the hand written COPY of the Regimental Roll – this file was named “Original Roll”.

2. The “Original Roll” was then cross-referenced to the Nominal Roll at the back of “On Target”, and where there was a match, the entry in “On Target” was highlighted.

3. A separate Excel Spreadsheet was then compiled from the hand written copy of the Attached Personnel – this file was named “Attached Personnel”.

4. The “Attached Personnel” file was also cross-referenced to the Nominal Roll at the back of “On Target” and again the entry in “On Target” was highlighted where there was a match.

5. The entries in the Nominal Roll that had not been highlighted were then used as the basis of compiling a separate Excel Spreadsheet file called “Reinforcements”. These records did not have Rank or Battery Numbers as only the Name, Initials and Service Numbers are listed in the Nominal Roll.

6. The Service Number, Name, Initials, Rank and Battery components from the “Original Roll”, “Attached Personnel” and “Reinforcements” files were then merged into a single file called “Combined Roll”.

7. Fortunately, former Secretary Cec Rae was able to provide a copy of the Nominal Roll from the back of” On Target” which had been notated with the member’s Battery Numbers, where they were known. The work of former Secretary Cec Rae, former President Ron Bryant, former Secretary John Campbell and former Treasurer John Hepworth in undertaking this task several years earlier is acknowledged.

8. Cec Rae’s notated list was cross-referenced against the “Reinforcements” file, and where they were available on the notated list, Battery Numbers were entered on the “Reinforcements” file.

9. Finally, a line by line cross-reference between the original hand written Roll and the hand written copy was undertaken to identify which records in the original Roll had not been transcribed to the copy.

This was necessary as names and Service Numbers of those members NOT transcribed to the copy were included on the Nominal Roll in “On Target”, but without their Rank and Battery details.

10. Rank and Battery Number from the records not transcribed were then added to the records on both the “Reinforcements” and “Combined Roll” files.

11. The “Combined Roll” was then sorted into alphabetic sequence.

The Combined Roll has been sorted into a variety of sequences including Alphabetic, Service Number, Alphabetic within State and also Alphabetic within Battery.

Post Script

In August 2017, and on behalf of the Association, the Association's Research Officer, David McDonald, presented the original rolls to the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Below are extracts from an email David sent to the Association Office Bearers following his meeting with the AWM:

"This afternoon I had an appointment with the Donations staff at the AWM for them to inspect the 2/3rd's Nominal Roll. My contact person was Acquisitions Officer, Aiden Silvestro, who took me to a secure of the AWM Administration area.

Aiden explained that the AWM have lots of offers of donations and many don't meet their needs. He added that it usually takes several months to assess an offer and to decide whether or not they will accept it. A senior officer (Alexandra Orr, responsible for Certificates and Nominal Rolls) joined us to look at the Rolls.

Alexandra briefly examined both Rolls and immediately arranged for theOriginal Roll to be sent to the Conversation Section of the AWM in Mitchell (Canberra suburb) as 'a priority job for the conservators'. It turned out that the Nominal Rolls collection contains very few Original Rolls. In response to a question as to why the Association wished to gift the Original Roll to the AWM, David explained the Association reasons were 'commemoration, preservation and public access'.

Instead of waiting for many months for the offer to be assessed, a legal 'Deed of Gift' was printed out on the spot, transferring ownership of the Original Roll to the AWM - to be retained there and preserves there in perpetuity.

In due course, the AWM will provide a hyperlink from the AWM Catalogue entry to the Regimental Data Bases on the Association's web site.

A wonderful outcome for our Association, for our memory of the Regiment's members, and for the Australian War Memorial.

Last updated 11 August 2020